How to plant thistle

Cynara cardunculus variety altilis

The thistle is a plant of the same species as the artichoke, being very similar to this one. Cultivated thistle differs from wild thistle in that it is larger in height, has larger inflorescences, has thicker petioles (the stem of leaves) and has fewer thorns. From the thistle you can eat the inflorescences, prepared in the same way as the inflorescences of the artichoke, but it is grown mainly for the consumption of the leaf stalks, which are cleaned and used in cooked or fried dishes.


The thistle originates from regions with a Mediterranean climate, but can be grown in different climatic regions. The ideal regions for its cultivation have a moderately cold and dry winter, and a moderately hot summer. Very cold and humid winters can harm the plant.


The thistle needs direct sunlight for at least a few hours daily.


Cultivate in well-drained, deep, fertile soil rich in organic matter. Thistle grows well in most soil types and is very tolerant of soil pH.


Irrigate in order to keep the soil moist in the seasons when the plant is growing, but without it remaining drenched. The plant is, however, resistant to drought when it is already well developed.


The thistle can be propagated by seeds or by dividing plants with shoots.

Thistle seeds are usually sown in the spring, as soon as the soil temperature is at least 10 ° C. The seeds are sown in the final location or in plastic bags for seedlings, pots and other containers, about 2.5 cm deep. Seedlings are transplanted when they reach approximately 25 cm in height. The spacing between rows can be 1.2 m, and the distance between plants can be 38 cm.

Once you have well-developed plants with good characteristics, the most suitable method of propagation is to remove the shoots that appear around the plants, which must be removed by digging carefully around the plant and separating the shoots from the parent plant. with a knife or shovel. Shoots must be well developed and must be removed with roots.


Remove invasive plants that are competing for nutrients and resources, especially in the first months of cultivation.

Bleaching or bleaching of petioles, if desired, should start to be done one or two months before harvest. This is done by tying the leaves of the plant and wrapping the bundle of the leaf stalks with opaque dark paper or plastic. Alternatively, earth can be piled up at the base of the beam.


Harvesting is usually done in late autumn or early winter, cutting the entire plant. The stems must have the leaves and thorns removed before they are used.

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